Compounders see eye to eye on issues
For the past three years, processors have fretted about the economy while keeping an eye on overseas competition, mainly China. Most hope that when the market starts to turn around, they'll discover that the biggest problem they've faced has been the slowdown, and not an exodus of work that isn't coming back.
Call it cautious optimism - or perhaps in some cases hopeful pessimism is a more accurate description. One thing that is clear, though, is compounders see the same issues, and they're reacting.
First, we're beginning to see more major U.S. compounders spending time and money on an Asia strategy. They're not blazing the trail alone: Mostly they're following original equipment manufacturers (and some processors) that are shifting work overseas, or simply tackling new, fast-growing markets. It's a lucrative region that compounders would be mistaken to ignore.
You can draw other parallels between what's going on in compounding and other segments of the plastics industry. For example, with PolyOne Corp. you've got a megamerger that most people thought was a good idea back in 2000, but that's now running into some financial tough times. That tune must sound awfully familiar to the folks at Plassein International Corp. and Pliant Corp.
Also, there's overcapacity. With so many extruders out there, compounding is mirroring the film industry. Firms have spent millions to retire old machines and replace them with modern equipment.
Our leaders in Washington seem to believe the economy is back on an uphill climb, and with a national election on the horizon, it's likely to continue to pick up.
R U 4 plastics or not?
Do you find plastics offensive?
Or, more precisely, ``PLASTCS''?
Chances are that most Plastics News readers do not. And while we're all aware that some folks in the general public have an anti-plastics bias, it still came as a shock to Michael Hoyt when the Arizona Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division turned down his request for the personalized license plate PLASTCS.
According to the form letter Hoyt received: ``The combination of letters that you requested could be perceived as having a connotation that may be offensive or misleading to the public.''
That didn't sit well with Hoyt, the western sales manager for profile extruder Loxcreen Co. Inc. So, rather than live with the bureaucratic ruling, he appealed to the division's Personalized Plate Review Committee - which meets the second Thursday of every month - and he also called a friend who is a state senator.
In the end, Hoyt won the battle. In fact, he got a vanity plate that he likes even better, PLASTIX, because someone requested it, got the same negative response, and didn't bother to appeal.
``It was an interesting ordeal,'' Hoyt reports. The process took more than a month. ``It took an act of Congress to get it,'' he added, exaggerating only a bit.
There's no doubt some drivers try to get offensive plates past our vigilant public sector workers. TheSmokingGun.com has a great archive of plates that made it through, including IH8GOP, 4U HOES, 4NIKATE. But turning down PLASTCS or PLASTIX earns a special award for bureaucratic silliness. Any ideas for what to call it?